Leslie Odom Jr, a Tony Award winner for his role as Aaron Burr in the musical phenomenon "Hamilton," met with 18 students from the University of Southern Maine's School of Music.
As an audience of one, Odom watched the students perform the musical's signature number, "Alexander Hamilton." When they finished, he gave them a few words of advice as they prepare to open the musical "Of Thee I Sing" on Oct. 27.
He implored them to use all of their power and passion every time they perform, said Ed Reichert, a musical theatre lecturer at USM.
"He said, 'You guys have to treat this classic Gershwin musical as if it were 'Hamilton,'" Reichert said.
The students were awestruck, he said.
"Every one of them has heard the 'Hamilton' soundtrack at least 100 times," said Reichert. "They know every syllable of every song."
They weren't certain they were going to meet the Broadway star.
The students were rehearsing for a pre-concert event in a hall adjacent to Portland's Merrill Auditorium, where Odom would later perform to a capacity crowd.
He appeared. He heard them from a nearby room and wanted to say "hello."
"The students were on cloud nine," Reichert said. "To them, he's like a god."